October 2022 Newsletter

Hello friends and supporters of 99 York,

It’s been another unusual year around the house. As things officially reopened over the past several months, we’ve noticed that some of our members are more than ready to come back to gathering in person in our cozy living room, while others are not there yet, and still more have
seen their groups and projects come to a close during two years of social distancing and space closures.

We believe in the mission of the house and hope that more of you will choose to come back and new people will find ways to make use of this unique gathering place.

New Tenants

We are so thrilled that community interest in our 3 studio spaces resulted in new tenants, all engaged in the arts. This new creative energy could lead to new activities in the public meeting spaces…we sure hope so!

Need for Board Members

We find ourselves in a position of urgently seeking new blood for our Board of Directors. If you or anyone you know might be interested in helping us keep the space open and running smoothly in 2023 and beyond, please get in touch and we can chat with you about what it means to be a part of the board. It’s a gratifying and diverse organization to be a part of, so even if you’re not sure exactly how you’d like to contribute or what commitment you’d be able to make, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re particularly in need of people with some experience with non-profit
management and conducting meetings, but all new faces are welcome. If interested please get in touch before the end of October 2022 by contacting me through email (rachela [at] riseup [dot] net )

I hope to see many of you in person at the AGM on November 22nd !

— Rachel Abs , President, 99 York Community House

What is a community house?

A place for folks to gather and share ideas, food, and fun. A place where all are welcome. A place to build stronger communities, no matter your origins, your age, or your orientation. A place to learn and to take on new responsibilities. We want to keep it safe, welcoming, and solvent. We are looking for folks with new ideas. Ideas about creativity and the arts, about the environment and climate change, about supporting each other in these difficult times.


When I agreed to take on writing an article about cultural diversity for the 99 York newsletter, I felt very positive that I would be able to turn out something definitive very quickly. But now as I sit in front of the keyboard, I am feeling somewhat unsettled. As a board we discussed the importance of the membership being diverse to truly reflect the concept of community and self-reliance. 99 York’s full name is The Kingston Community House for Self-reliance. I know that the original intent of the women who purchased and converted 99 York into a non-profit meeting space wanted it to be a place where people would come together as a community and find their own strength without having to rely on government or governments to tell them what culture and community is. Out of this group of founders evolved the first Women’s Art Festival, a place where women could bring their art and talent without the need for a government program to set the tone.
I remember walking in the door of 99 York as a co-ordinator on September 1981 and feeling like I had just stepped into some place special, a place where the community I shared a commonality with, could call its own. It was a place where words, where concepts like “multiculturalism” and “social mosaic,” were recognized as government words. Words that can
create divisions among people because they inadvertently create differences and obscure similarities.

How do we ensure a space where we all feel safe and included? Where demonstrations of what we eat and how we pray, where we are from and what we believe are not as important as how we relate. A place where we can begin with a circle of communities that do not see each other “multiculturally” or as “social mosaics” but as one community within diversity. There is so much diversity to share even within the tents that we come from. That is our challenge. And, just to add a little levity to the discussion, you can rest assured that, if we are successful, and if the government ever found 99 York, it would take credit for it. It needs us to feel successful, not the other way around.

— Bob Cussler , Board Member, 99 York Community House

Smudge Ceremony

On October 11th a smudging ceremony was held, and a painting was
installed in our front hall to acknowledge those who lived here and cared
for this land long before us. The painting was created by our Board
Member Bob Cussler.

Covid Response

Your Kingston Community House closed in March of 2020 for two weeks to enable the board to consult with the local Health Unit. Since then, we have remained open. We have always been home to groups where personal isolation and lack of peer support posed greater risks than the Covid infection. As a result, we were encouraged to stay open and provide a valuable community meeting space. We instituted a rigorous cleaning regime and provided personal sanitizers etc. In 2021 we bought a hepa
air purifier that runs silently in meeting spaces to reduce the risk of infection.

Parking space available

Looking for a place to park a car or store a boat or trailer for the winter? We have a bargain at $50/month. Come see for yourself!

Accessibility Project

The Kingston Community House was first opened in 1983. As far back as 1985, records show an interest in making The Kingston Community House for Self Reliance more assessable. Well, we’ve finally come up with a plan!
This is a major project and there will be many stages. Phase one is the addition of another door at the rear of the building providing access to the lower level. That required a revisioning of the back yard. We already wanted an outdoor meeting space, and our new design includes that and more!

With the help of an anonymous donation, we have had major trimming done to our giant Freemen Maple Tree in the back yard, estimated by the arborist at 125 years old! Now we’re ready to level the yard, build a new patio and a new path, rework the garden spaces, and of course, retain the neighbourhood swing and parking.

Phase two will be to replace and relocate the furnace. A professional assessment indicates it is close to the end of its life. What is the most ecological way to go? Research is underway!

If you can help, please reach out! – Have a look at our dream below.

Have something to contribute? – Call Board Member Bruce Downey at (613-353-2068)